Have you been threatened by law enforcement and or the court system of having your property seized? If so, then you need to understand that in certain instances, Florida law allows the seizure of various properties. This practice is known in legal terms as “forfeiture.”
Some of the most common types of forfeitures in Florida involve vehicles, but money and other personal property are also common targets. While legal, the practice of seizure under forfeiture law is sometimes abused and misused by law enforcement and the justice system. That is why it is important to seek the services of an attorney if you are facing a situation involving forfeiture.
South Florida Criminal Attorney Evan A. Hoffman has represented many clients facing forfeiture based seizures of their property. Mr. Hoffman can help devise a plan to fight the system and see that your property and rights are protected. If you have received a notice of seizure, you only have a matter of days to protect your property.
Call The Hoffman Firm at (305) 249-0090 to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. This firm serves clients in Miami-Dade County.
- What is Forfeiture?
- What Actions Lead to Forfeiture?
- What are Some Defenses to Forfeiture?
- More Information on Forfeiture Law
What is Forfeiture?
Forfeiture is governed under Florida code 932.701 and is described as: (1) (a) Any contraband article, vessel, motor vehicle, aircraft, other personal property, or real property used in violation of any provision of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, or in, upon, or by means of which any violation of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act has taken or is taking place, may be seized and shall be forfeited subject to the provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act.
In addition to the state, there are also federal laws which may apply. The main reason for having property seized under forfeiture law is that the property is believed to have been obtained through illegal activity, or was purchased with funds that were obtained through illegal activity.
What Actions Lead to Forfeiture?
A few typical reasons for property seizure include the following:
- Money that was obtained in drug trafficking
- Property (motor vehicles, boats, real estate, jewelry, etc.) that was obtained through drug trafficking, fraud or other illegal activity
- Money obtained through fraud, such as by mortgage fraud, mail fraud or wire fraud
- Motor vehicles, real estate, or other property that was used to commit drug crimes and or fraud
- RICO violations and cases involving racketeering
- Money or property related to a money laundering case
What are Some Defenses to Forfeiture?
In order for the seizure to be carried out, it must be proven that the property was indeed obtained through such means. In some forfeiture situations, law enforcement may utilize questionable approaches such as seizing vehicles during a drug arrest.
In these situations, a skilled defense attorney can work towards having your property returned due to law enforcement’s possibly ineffective reasoning for seizure. Some defenses against forfeiture include the following:
- The actual owner of the property is an innocent owner who was not knowledgeable of any criminal activity;
- The forfeiture was an excessive response to the alleged crime; and
- The seizing officer acted without probable cause.
These are just some of the defenses which can be used against law enforcement, or in a property owner’s defense.
More Information on Forfeiture Law
Online Sunshine- Florida’s state legislature site provides full statutes on forfeiture and the forfeiture process.
Drugpolicy.org- This organization provides information on Florida’s forfeiture reformation process.
If you are facing having your property seized, you need to act quickly because you only have Fifteen (15) days in state actions, and Ten (10) days in federal actions after receiving notice of the forfeiture to file a request for an adverse preliminary hearing to preserve all of your rights.
South Florida Attorney Evan Hoffman can walk you through this process, and make sure that nothing is missed that might help in giving you an advantage in your situation. The Hoffman Firm is standing by and ready to schedule a free consultation for you. Give them a call at (305) 249-0090 today.